Featured Articles:

U.S. Marijuana Laws Cause Uncertainty for Financial Institutions

Noah Smith, Associate at The Volkov Law Group, rejoins us for an interesting blog posting on the compliance challenges for financial institutions and other businesses involved in legal marijuana transactions. Noah can be reached at nsmith@volkovlaw.com. The quasi-legal status of marijuana in today’s United States is raising serious questions about federalism and enforcement for U.S. financial institutions. It is well known that marijuana is still...

Episode 78 — Ethical Cultures and Proactive Measures to Mitigate Organizational #MeToo Risks

The corporate world has been rocked by major governance failures surrounding #MeToo incidents and complaints.  Recently, Google suffered global walkouts by employees who were upset by Google’s payment of lucrative severance packages to senior executives forced to resign because of sexual misconduct issues, and a culture of sexual misconduct that included 48 sexual misconduct incidents resulting in the departure/termination of employees.   Companies have to address...

Lessons Learned from the Cognizant FCPA Resolution (Part IV of IV)

The Cognizant FCPA enforcement action will go down as a problematic resolution for the policy reasons mentioned in my last post.  Putting those concerns aside, there are some important lessons learned and observations that should be examined. Credit for Pre-Existing Compliance Program: From a compliance perspective, DOJ’s declination letter explicitly credits Cognizant’s compliance program, citing “the existence and effectiveness of the Company’s pre-existing compliance program,...

Reflections on the Cognizant FCPA Resolution: Does DOJ Mean What it Says? (Part III of IV)

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled. — Mark Twain The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible. — Mark Twain We live in an era where credibility and truthfulness are character values that are often challenged, questioned and indeed overrun.  Trust and integrity are values of utmost value and importance.  In an...

The Anatomy of a Bribery Scandal: Digging into the Cognizant Bribery Scheme (Part II of IV)

The Cognizant bribery scheme is another in the line of illegal conspiracies orchestrated by senior management – but this one is even more disturbing for a number of reasons.  Cognizant’s former president and general counsel directed the scheme in full consultation and with full knowledge and intent with the chief operating officer and the vice president of administration.  Add Cognizant to the list of companies...

Tom Fox and Michael Volkov Discuss Cognizant Technologies FCPA SEC Settlement, Declination and Criminal Indictment of Two Executives

Tom Fox and I discuss the recent FCPA enforcement action involving Cognizant Technologies. Cognizant settled FCPA violations with the SEC for approximately $25 million, received a declination from the Justice Department under the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, and Cognizant’s former president and general counsel were indicted for criminal FCPA violations and charged by the SEC with civil violations. Tom and I recorded a podcast to...

Cognizant Technology Pays $25 Million for FCPA Violations and Earns Declination — Two Executives are Indicted for Criminal FCPA Violations (Part I of IV)

In the first corporate FCPA action of 2019, Cognizant Technology Solutions Company settled its long-running FCPA case, agreeing to pay the SEC $25 million.  (SEC Settlement Here).  At the same time, the Justice Department announced: (1) its declination under the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (Here); and (2) the indictment of its former President and General Counsel for criminal FCPA violations (Here). The charges arose from...

Episode 77 — Implementing an Effective Trade Compliance Program

Companies involved in export and import activities face a variety of risks from sanctions and export controls created by a complex maze of regulations and oversight from the Department of State, Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce.  With the increasing complexity of sanctions regimes, companies have to devote significant attention and resources to implement an effective trade compliance program. In this episode, Michael...

OFAC Announces Two Sanctions Enforcement Settlements

What a difference a year makes — The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”) announced two sanctions settlements in the beginning of 2019, a stark difference from 2018 when OFAC announced its first enforcement action in June 2018. ELF Cosmetics  On January 31, 2019, OFAC announced a $996,080 settlement with e.l.f. Cosmetics, Inc. (“ELF”), a California cosmetics company for violation of the North...

Corruption Risks and the Issue of Foreign Government Officials

Global companies are expending more time and resources to understanding their relationships with foreign officials.  This is a key focus of every anti-corruption compliance program. Foreign government officials create different risks dep[ending on the relationship and the nature of the interactions.  A helpful way to examine the issue is by dividing government officials into two categories – foreign government official (FGO) owners and FGOs that...